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Our hard won values will defeat terrorism

We were all shocked by the terrorist attacks in Paris last week. Islamist extremists killed 17 people in a horrific series of events across the city. In attacking a satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket, the terrorists were trying to attack two core principles that underpin our society - freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Alerts to catch the terrorists were sent round Europe. There were concerns they would seek to flee to Britain. Security at the Port of Dover was stepped up. 

In the face of this shock it was heartening to see so many people in France and around the World stand up against these attacks. The message "Je Suis Charlie" quickly spread in solidarity with the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, where 10 staff were killed. 

People here in Dover and Deal too felt deeply that the values we hold dear were under threat. In Deal, residents swiftly organised a gathering on the pier to show their solidarity with the Paris victims. 200 people came, from all political parties and none. Carrying pens, lanterns and Je Suis Charlie placards the throng marched down the pier towards France. It was moving to attend this spontaneous event and see the local strength of feeling against these terrorist attacks and for our values of freedom of speech and of the press.

These values of freedom have been hard won over the centuries. We have seen attacks on freedom of speech and freedom of religion before. Indeed our White Cliffs stand as a symbol for the protection of our freedoms. And they stand as a warning against extremism and the politics of hate. The reaction across the world, and in our corner of Kent, shows why the terrorists will ultimately fail. In trying to attack free speech and our way of life, they reinvigorated support for freedom across our society.

These attacks also highlight the importance of promoting our core British values and freedoms. Yes, we need a live and let live attitude on how people choose to live. But we should also not be shy in promoting the fact that we are all British, we have shared customs, shared values, laws and freedoms that we should be proud of. So we must make the case for integration - not the entrenchment of division that is multi-culturalism. We are all in it together, we are all one community and one nation - and we are at our strongest when we all stand together.

Last week's atrocities highlighted why we should always be vigilant in protecting our freedoms. So dearly won, they are so easily lost and so often under siege. Our White Cliffs are a symbol of the values we hold dear. I was proud to stand with so many residents of Deal in tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks.

Conservative run Dover District Council is moving ahead with plans to demolish Burlington House and redevelop the site on Dover's Townwall Street. Do you support this?

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Dover & Deal Conservative Association, 54 The Strand, Walmer, Deal, Kent   CT14 7DP
Tel: 01304 379669      Email: enquiries@doverconservatives.com